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A Remarkable Kindness

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Through a largely hidden ceremony…four friends discover the true meaning of life. It's 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land m Through a largely hidden ceremony…four friends discover the true meaning of life. It's 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land miles away from her beloved Boston. Seeking a fresh start after divorce, her vivacious friend Emily follows. Strong, sensuous Aviva, brought to Israel years earlier by intelligence work, has raised a family and now lost a son. And Rachel, a beautiful, idealistic college graduate from Wyoming, arrives with her hopeful dreams. The women forge a friendship that sustains them as they come to terms with love and loss, and the outbreak of war. Their intimate bond is strengthened by their participation in a traditional ritual that closes the circle of life. As their lives are slowly transformed, each finds unexpected strength and resilience. Brimming with wisdom, rich in meaningful insights, A Remarkable Kindness is a moving testament to women’s friendship, illuminating a mostly unknown ritual that underscores what it means to truly be alive.


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Through a largely hidden ceremony…four friends discover the true meaning of life. It's 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land m Through a largely hidden ceremony…four friends discover the true meaning of life. It's 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land miles away from her beloved Boston. Seeking a fresh start after divorce, her vivacious friend Emily follows. Strong, sensuous Aviva, brought to Israel years earlier by intelligence work, has raised a family and now lost a son. And Rachel, a beautiful, idealistic college graduate from Wyoming, arrives with her hopeful dreams. The women forge a friendship that sustains them as they come to terms with love and loss, and the outbreak of war. Their intimate bond is strengthened by their participation in a traditional ritual that closes the circle of life. As their lives are slowly transformed, each finds unexpected strength and resilience. Brimming with wisdom, rich in meaningful insights, A Remarkable Kindness is a moving testament to women’s friendship, illuminating a mostly unknown ritual that underscores what it means to truly be alive.

30 review for A Remarkable Kindness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Raven Haired Girl

    Imperious snapshot of the intricate complexity of living in a slight village in Israel. You are exposed to the truly eclectic mix of people as well as cultures claiming Israel as their home. The challenges of living in this rocky county through war and times of peace, dichotomies and never-ending conflicts are richly described. People living in constant unrest, any given moment can be devastating, Bletter captures the atmosphere present day and its people in a compelling manner. Exploring Israel Imperious snapshot of the intricate complexity of living in a slight village in Israel. You are exposed to the truly eclectic mix of people as well as cultures claiming Israel as their home. The challenges of living in this rocky county through war and times of peace, dichotomies and never-ending conflicts are richly described. People living in constant unrest, any given moment can be devastating, Bletter captures the atmosphere present day and its people in a compelling manner. Exploring Israel through the lives of four American Jewish women via various circumstances electing to relocate to Israel is eye-opening. Their friendship and beliefs serve as a bond as they collectively participate in serving their village as members of the chevra kadisha or burial circle preparing the body for burial in the ritual manner and sit with the body until the funeral. The ritual is halting, and the way it is portrayed leaves you in admiration for those performing the last task to the deceased with incredibly dignity. Bletter did an outstanding job incorporating this aspect into the narrative, extremely respectful and quite affecting. "Helping a woman give birth was so noisy, filled with moans and screams and commotion. But death was quiet. So calm and unruffled. It was almost as if the mystery of life could be found within that silence." The four women range in age, circumstances all dealing with personal issues, they really give a glimpse into the many facets of life in Israel. Their day-to-day life, a game of roulette, all dealing with heavier personal issues, an ideologist, another dealing with grief, one looking to escape, and one deeply homesick . A wonderful story of friendship in a challenging environment. Fantastic insight into culture, traditions, people. Lovely. Visit Raven Haired Girl for more reviews and giveaways

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    A Remarkable Kindness tells the story of four women in a small community on Israel's northern Mediterranean coast not far from the Lebanese border. They are drawn together through their common background as American Jewish women living in Israel and their friendship, love, care and commitment to partake in the community's chevra kadisha or burial circle. As they and the other members of the circle prepare the body for burial in the ritual manner and sit with the body until the funeral, we learn A Remarkable Kindness tells the story of four women in a small community on Israel's northern Mediterranean coast not far from the Lebanese border. They are drawn together through their common background as American Jewish women living in Israel and their friendship, love, care and commitment to partake in the community's chevra kadisha or burial circle. As they and the other members of the circle prepare the body for burial in the ritual manner and sit with the body until the funeral, we learn their impressions and the complications in their lives. This book vividly and realistically portrays the women and the other characters in the coastal village and gives us a taste of the different people and cultures that call that area of Israel home. Through the women's stories we discover their changing shapes and colors, their power and energy, their joys and sorrows. The landscape described also reflects contrasts and complications — it is tough as well as mild, its sounds can be soft and sometimes harsh. A Remarkable Kindness brings to life the atmosphere, scenery, smells and struggles of living in Israel through peace and war. The book will resonate with those who live in Israel or have been to Israel and can recall their own impressions and the uninitiated who will learn about the land, the people and customs. It is a 'must read' book for anyone who values friendship and is interested in the Promised Land. Diana Bletter

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    What a truly wonderful story. I'm going to have to get my thesaurus to find enough words to describe remarkable. Set in Northern Israel from 2000-2006 this book taught me so much about life love and friendship. With rocket attacks a daily possibility, 4 women live their lives to the fullest. 3 have emigrated from the US and all miss their old friends and families. They help with the death house, preparing women for burial. I love Rachel, Lauren, Aviva and Emily. The story blends so naturally fro What a truly wonderful story. I'm going to have to get my thesaurus to find enough words to describe remarkable. Set in Northern Israel from 2000-2006 this book taught me so much about life love and friendship. With rocket attacks a daily possibility, 4 women live their lives to the fullest. 3 have emigrated from the US and all miss their old friends and families. They help with the death house, preparing women for burial. I love Rachel, Lauren, Aviva and Emily. The story blends so naturally from each of their point of view. I learned so much about Jewish customs and Arab life. A fantastic read that will have you watching the news with a little different view. This has moved right into my top ten books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    There are books that are hard to get through, not because they are poorly written, but because the subject matter is so difficult. The story of three good friends, Emily, Aviva and Lauren, part of a burial circle in Israel, will speak to your heart. There is much sadness and loss experienced,but the love and friendship are redeeming. I recommend if you want to read a truly moving novel.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Barton

    Chick Lit in Israel.Who knew!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    The best book I have read this year. Set in Israel, this book follows the lives of the women of the Burial Circle in Peleg. Each woman is very different and living in a war torn country is hard. But in spite of the harshness of their surroundings these women find a bond that goes beyond sisterhood. Their tending of the dead women in their village teaches them so much about life and living every day to its fullest. I really hated to come to the end of this book as I felt I really knew Aviva, Laur The best book I have read this year. Set in Israel, this book follows the lives of the women of the Burial Circle in Peleg. Each woman is very different and living in a war torn country is hard. But in spite of the harshness of their surroundings these women find a bond that goes beyond sisterhood. Their tending of the dead women in their village teaches them so much about life and living every day to its fullest. I really hated to come to the end of this book as I felt I really knew Aviva, Lauren, Emily and Rachel. I will miss them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Asheley

    Read my full review HERE at Into the Hall of Books. This is the story of four women living in Israel that come together to perform a traditional burial ceremony when a women dies in their community. These women are American Jewish women that have all moved to Israel for different reasons and consequently are all a part of the burial circle for different reasons. A Remarkable Kindness takes a look into the lives of Lauren, Emily, Aviva, and Rachel - at how they came to Israel, how they adjust to a Read my full review HERE at Into the Hall of Books. This is the story of four women living in Israel that come together to perform a traditional burial ceremony when a women dies in their community. These women are American Jewish women that have all moved to Israel for different reasons and consequently are all a part of the burial circle for different reasons. A Remarkable Kindness takes a look into the lives of Lauren, Emily, Aviva, and Rachel - at how they came to Israel, how they adjust to and enjoy their live in Israel, and how they feel about their part in the burial circle. I went into this book fairly blindly, to be honest, which is how I love to begin novels. I was mainly interested in the interaction of these women from different backgrounds, how they interact and form friendships when they come together. The author sets this story over about six years, from 2000-2006, so we are really able to get to know each woman over time and see how she connects to the other characters. One follows her physician husband to Israel because he wants to make a difference where he is needed rather than in America, where he is sure to live a more comfortable life. One is in Israel alone, to volunteer and change things and make a difference in the world. One moved there years ago, is a widow, and has lost too many family members to the unstable political and religious military violence. One moves to Israel after a divorce breaks her heart, looking for a fresh start. I grew to adore each of these women, and I was so interested in the things that they loved, the things that broke their hearts, their successes and mistakes, and how they felt about one another. I loved them all. I felt like I could feel them and see them in my head so very well. The burial circle ceremony is not something that I knew about before this book. Bodies are prepared and cleansed for burial and then watched or protected until they are actually buried, and this is uniquely special because the dead cannot thank them for their service. I loved watching these woman learn this process and in return, grow in their respect for living and for death, and I also loved how this process changed their own lives in unique ways. It is in between the burial circle scenes that we really learn these characters' stories. I personally learned more about what was going on in this region at the time, and I always enjoy that, plus I learned more about the culture of the different groups of people living there. This book is so wonderfully character-driven and I was caught up in decisions and emotions and friendships and casual interactions with secondary characters. Long before the book ended, I was fully invested and wanted the very best for each woman/family. I recommend A Remarkable Kindness by Diana Bletter for readers that enjoy women's fiction and readers that enjoy learning about cultures other than their own. This would make a great beach or pool read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    Four women have found themselves immigrating to Israel, some from idealism, some for love. They come together in a bond that helps them adjust to a culture that is very often not easy. All four join the local hevra kadisha, a burial circle. Being Jewish, I am familiar with the tradition and the blessing one derives from helping someone that cannot return the favor. Upon death, the “burial circle” lovingly and reverently prepares the body for burial. The body must be cleansed and wrapped; and the Four women have found themselves immigrating to Israel, some from idealism, some for love. They come together in a bond that helps them adjust to a culture that is very often not easy. All four join the local hevra kadisha, a burial circle. Being Jewish, I am familiar with the tradition and the blessing one derives from helping someone that cannot return the favor. Upon death, the “burial circle” lovingly and reverently prepares the body for burial. The body must be cleansed and wrapped; and the body is not to be left alone before burial. One cannot perform this precious ritual without being changed themselves. We slowly get to know these four women: Lauren who moved to Israel after falling in love with an Israeli man, Emily who follows her best friend Lauren there, Aviva whose work brought her there and she chose to remain, and young idealistic Rachel wants to change the world. Some find more than they expected, and some are very disappointed. The story covers a period of six years. The gaps sometimes confused me, but not horribly so. I just had to look back to the previous chapter for the “date stamp”. Each chapter does begin with a date and year so that helps. I could see the evolution of the characters and how well they did, or did not, adjust to their new homes. I found the varying reactions of the characters to their new home to be very realistic. Israel is a difficult country to adapt to. Life there is difficult. But life there also has its incredible moments that you would not exchange for anything. The women there must be strong and must adapt to loss. Our four women experience many losses – loss of loved ones, loss of innocence, loss of hope, loss of home. I have known women like all four of them. There is a wonderful variety of “supporting characters” to the story. These characters bring in the elements of multi-cultures, of Holocaust survival, of fatigue from life itself. Some are able to handle the stresses, some cannot. It is a realistic look at people striving to survive under often soul-destroying conditions.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Bakal

    The story of 4 American women who make aliya to the same small community in northern Israel. It made me cry. It made me think about life in Israel for both Americans who aren't used to the hardships of life under constant stress of the worry of war, and the the life of Israeli's who live life under the constant stress of the worry of war and hate from their Arab neighbors. It made me think about my visits there, my family there, my children, being Jewish...... not so much by what the book said, The story of 4 American women who make aliya to the same small community in northern Israel. It made me cry. It made me think about life in Israel for both Americans who aren't used to the hardships of life under constant stress of the worry of war, and the the life of Israeli's who live life under the constant stress of the worry of war and hate from their Arab neighbors. It made me think about my visits there, my family there, my children, being Jewish...... not so much by what the book said, but by what it brought to the forefront of my thoughts. It also made me think about the rituals surrounding death of a Jew. Not powerfully written, but brought out powerful thoughts for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Morninglight Mama

    I had mixed reactions to this novel. I enjoyed the storylines of the four women at the center of the book, but the storytelling format itself made it challenging to follow along. The inconsistencies in time passage between chapters made it disorienting to know when the next chapter was taking place, as well as the habit of some characters to drift off into interior flashbacks that weren't differentiated in the text also made it difficult to know what was going on. The content of the novel, espec I had mixed reactions to this novel. I enjoyed the storylines of the four women at the center of the book, but the storytelling format itself made it challenging to follow along. The inconsistencies in time passage between chapters made it disorienting to know when the next chapter was taking place, as well as the habit of some characters to drift off into interior flashbacks that weren't differentiated in the text also made it difficult to know what was going on. The content of the novel, especially the details about the traditional burial circle experience, was compelling and emotionally evocative.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Told from the alternating perspectives of four American women who made Aliyah and all become volunteers in the burial society in their small town in northern Israel. I put it down about half way through because I felt like every chapter was about who was hooking up with who and the romantic relationships all seemed to be developing too quickly to be believable. But I picked it up again last night and finished it this afternoon. It was a page turner at the end and had some important, interesting, Told from the alternating perspectives of four American women who made Aliyah and all become volunteers in the burial society in their small town in northern Israel. I put it down about half way through because I felt like every chapter was about who was hooking up with who and the romantic relationships all seemed to be developing too quickly to be believable. But I picked it up again last night and finished it this afternoon. It was a page turner at the end and had some important, interesting, and insightful (though sometimes shallow) messages about life, love, grief, and friendship.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    This book follows the complicated lives of women in a costal village in northern Israel. Through the experiences of these women we are introduced to deep themes of love, life, death, grief, war and peace. The author does not spare us any details of their messy lives and relationships and mistakes, but also illustrates the beauty of passion and complication. A must-read for 2015.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Life is a puzzle and often times doesn't make sense. I really liked the book but found that it made me both happy and sad. Happy that these friends found each other in Israel and did something so powerful as The Burial Group.. Sad on the way it all turned out.. But that's life! I would highly recommend this book! Life is a puzzle and often times doesn't make sense. I really liked the book but found that it made me both happy and sad. Happy that these friends found each other in Israel and did something so powerful as The Burial Group.. Sad on the way it all turned out.. But that's life! I would highly recommend this book!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    I love the friendships formed by these women. If not for the burial circle, their paths probably wouldn't have ever crossed. I found it easy to relate to the stresses of being a parent, but also loved how different I am from them. I learned a great deal more about a culture and have gained a better understanding. I love the friendships formed by these women. If not for the burial circle, their paths probably wouldn't have ever crossed. I found it easy to relate to the stresses of being a parent, but also loved how different I am from them. I learned a great deal more about a culture and have gained a better understanding.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I enjoyed this book and it is a very touching story about four friends who discover the real meaning of life as they try to survive in a war torn country, perhaps find love and the sadness of death. The story is rich on traditions handed down from generation to another and it will linger in the back of your mind for the longest time!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    **Goodreads First Reads Book** I don't recall ever reading a book set in modern day Israel. This book really made me feel like I had been there and knew these women. This was a very insightful novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more from Diana Bletter. **Goodreads First Reads Book** I don't recall ever reading a book set in modern day Israel. This book really made me feel like I had been there and knew these women. This was a very insightful novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more from Diana Bletter.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandee

    I continued to read this book hoping it would get better, but sadly, for me, it didn’t. Hopped all over the place with character descriptions and took forever to go anywhere, but for me it went no where. Sort of sappy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Liisi

    This is a book that covers tough subjects. opens feelings and thoughts one might not have known they had. it invokes a sense of life in the readers mind and heart. it may not be an easy read. it may seem easier to quit reading. there may seem like a plotless book instead of an intriguing story.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I found this book fascinating. I learned so much.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I learned quite a bit about the Jewish culture & the traditional ritual for the caring of a person after death while also reading about 4 friends & their lives.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I am happy I persevered and finished this novel. The story is bittersweet but satisfying. Sometimes the best things in life are like that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    A Remarkable Kindness is a fascinating and moving book. Four American women end up living in a small town in Northern Israel, just ten miles from the Lebanese border. The story takes place from 2000 to 2006, when war is hitting very close to home for them as the Israel-Hizbullah conflict escalates and comes to a head in the summer of 2006. Although the war plays a role in the story, it is truly about the four women, adjusting to life in Israel and coming together with a few local women to join t A Remarkable Kindness is a fascinating and moving book. Four American women end up living in a small town in Northern Israel, just ten miles from the Lebanese border. The story takes place from 2000 to 2006, when war is hitting very close to home for them as the Israel-Hizbullah conflict escalates and comes to a head in the summer of 2006. Although the war plays a role in the story, it is truly about the four women, adjusting to life in Israel and coming together with a few local women to join the community's burial circle. A burial circle or herva kadisha, is a group of Jewish men and women who take care of the dead, preparing their bodies according to Jewish tradition for burial. These are the last people to be with the dead before they are buried. They are volunteers and since the dead cannot thank them or give them anything in return, it is considered a hesed shel emet--an act of remarkable kindness. I find I am drawn to stories that explore different religions and cultures and being not at all familiar with Jewish burial circles, I found reading about the rituals engrossing. I will say that having selected this book back in March and then losing my mom in May, I was concerned that I would struggle with reading about death and the time in the burial house. I found however, that the rituals are so respectful and loving, I was moved but not upset by them. In fact, as much as death is a part of the story, it is more about life--changing, growing, loving, and learning to appreciate the life you have. The four women the story centers around--Aviva, Lauren, Emily, and Rachel are all from America, but they range in age, have different life experiences, and are in Israel for different reasons. Their individual stories are told in between the scenes in the burial house and it is through their interactions with the burial circle that they, and their friendships grow. The author writes each woman in a very real way--they certainly aren't perfect, but they are easy to relate to and I found myself caught up in their lives. The prologue of the book hints of a tragedy and loss to come and I found myself cringing as I moved toward the end, not wanting to read what I knew was going to happen. Still, the end brought closure and I was left with a smile and, admittedly, a few tears. A Remarkable Kindness will appeal to anyone who enjoys well-written women's fiction, Jewish culture and tradition, and stories about friendship and life. You can see my review and a recipe for a dish (Cucumber and Mint Tabbouleh with Minted Labneh & Avocado) inspired by the book on my blog post: http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/20... Note: A review copy of "A Remarkable Kindness" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    This story takes place between 2000-2006. Four American women end up in Northern Israel and, over time, work together in a burial circle. Their lives are so different and they each have their own trials to deal with. Lauren met David in Boston and they got married when she got pregnant. They now live in Israel and Lauren is conflicted as she loves her husband and children but is very homesick and would love to return to Boston. Lauren and Emily knew each other in Boston. Emily moved to Israel af This story takes place between 2000-2006. Four American women end up in Northern Israel and, over time, work together in a burial circle. Their lives are so different and they each have their own trials to deal with. Lauren met David in Boston and they got married when she got pregnant. They now live in Israel and Lauren is conflicted as she loves her husband and children but is very homesick and would love to return to Boston. Lauren and Emily knew each other in Boston. Emily moved to Israel after her divorce to get a fresh start. She marries a guy completely different from her first husband but it doesn't take long for her to question that decision. Aviva has lived in Israel for quite a few years. She's lost her husband and a son and is terrified of losing another one. Rachel moves over from Wyoming and it doesn't take long for her to start dating Aviva's son, Yoni. Yoni is a soldier and it's tough on her not knowing if she'll see him again each time he leaves. Like life, this book is filled with ups and downs. There are some very happy, joyful times and some very sad, painful times. Lauren was my favorite character. She was the most grounded and her life seemed to be the happiest to me. It wasn't perfect but she felt peace with the decisions she made and tried to help her other friends through some of their difficult choices. The burial circle brought them all together as they prepared and cleansed women's bodies for burial. It was interesting to see how this act of service affected each of their lives and their relationships with each other. Israel is a place I would love to visit so I loved learning more about the culture and especially the burial circle. The author includes an interview at the end where she shares that some of the experiences of her characters were based on ones she had herself. The authenticity came through in her writing. Overall, this is a book I enjoyed! However, there is some content to note. There's some swearing, including a handful of "f" bombs, infidelity and other short, descriptive sex scenes among unmarried couples. I received a copy of this book to review. My opinion is 100% my own. Mel's Shelves

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Four women in a small town in Israel bond over hevra kadisha, the burial circle. When village women die, the burial circle prepares their bodies for internment with ritual cleansing and shrouding. Rachel, Lauren, Emily, and Aviva all have different backgrounds and expectations, but share the peace that this service brings to the deceased and the bereaved. Aviva struggles with the loss of her son and husband while the other women try to comfort her. Lauren is desperately homesick for her native B Four women in a small town in Israel bond over hevra kadisha, the burial circle. When village women die, the burial circle prepares their bodies for internment with ritual cleansing and shrouding. Rachel, Lauren, Emily, and Aviva all have different backgrounds and expectations, but share the peace that this service brings to the deceased and the bereaved. Aviva struggles with the loss of her son and husband while the other women try to comfort her. Lauren is desperately homesick for her native Boston, and her best friend Emily follows her to Israel after a messy divorce. Idealistic Rachel sees Israel as a place to make a difference in the world. But war is looming, despite their personal obligations and village drama. I was captivated watching these women evolve over the course of half a decade. Lauren can’t help but be torn between the love of her husband and the life she knew before moving with him to Israel. Stuck in an unhappy second marriage and saddled with twins, Emily tries to resist the temptation of a flirtatious Arab coworker. Rachel falls for Aviva’s son who is on active duty on the front lines, and both of them fear for him constantly. Each woman struggles with something fundamental within themselves and also with the greater conflict brewing around them. The constant threat of a nation surrounded by its enemies was well-portrayed. I even got a little choked up reading the ending on the train, so that is proof that the author succeeded in evoking emotion from a generally dry-eyed reader. I received a complimentary copy of this book via TLC Book Tours.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A Remarkable Kindness, a book about 4 Jewish American women who live in a small village in Northern Israel, initially felt fairly shallow and flat to me. It seemed as if I was reading "chick lit" Israeli-style, which in of itself is not bad, but the characters were not particularly interesting. There were several whirlwind romances, affairs etc. told in a superficial style that I found unappealing. However, as I continued the characters became more complex and I became more engrossed with the st A Remarkable Kindness, a book about 4 Jewish American women who live in a small village in Northern Israel, initially felt fairly shallow and flat to me. It seemed as if I was reading "chick lit" Israeli-style, which in of itself is not bad, but the characters were not particularly interesting. There were several whirlwind romances, affairs etc. told in a superficial style that I found unappealing. However, as I continued the characters became more complex and I became more engrossed with the stories of each women, especially Aviva who was written with greater depth. Each woman was impacted by the war. They all handled their grief, loss and trauma differently but yet were connected to each other by it as well. Their biggest bond was being part of a burial circle, a ritual where dead bodies are prepared for their funerals. They are washed and tended to with love and care and because the village is so small, the women know the dead intimately. I loved how they took care of the dead but also each other. It was very moving. Lastly, I did not like how Arabs were portrayed. There was not one complex character who was Arab and they were portrayed fairly negatively which is unrealistic and unfair. Thank you Edelweiss for giving me this opportunity to review this book for an honest opinion.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This book provided me with wonderful insight into the modern day cultural Israeli world. We live through the lives of four American women who have come to live in Israel, for different reasons. The author brought to life what it is like for a young adult in Israel to have to go into military service, and for the parents that have to send them. We witness actual "war" on the homefront. The reader witnesses Jewish women interacting with Arab women. There are many women issues presented in this boo This book provided me with wonderful insight into the modern day cultural Israeli world. We live through the lives of four American women who have come to live in Israel, for different reasons. The author brought to life what it is like for a young adult in Israel to have to go into military service, and for the parents that have to send them. We witness actual "war" on the homefront. The reader witnesses Jewish women interacting with Arab women. There are many women issues presented in this book. I don't want dispense any important plot detail. I did have an issue with the chronological order. In 1999, a woman sends a son into the military. He was probably 18 years old. I estimate she gave birth to him in 1981. She was married first. She could not have gotten to Israel until she was at least 26 years old, as we learn she was plucked to do some undercover work while pursuing her Master's ... likely at at least age 23 years. She lived a few years in Paris before even meeting her husband. Yet she celebrates her 50th birthday in 2006 ... making her a 1956 baby. It may seem irrelevant but I like actual dates to work out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There was history, romance, religion, culture ... I wanted to continue reading it and learn more about the characters. I think it would make for a wonderful LIFETIME movie.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Life during wartime specifically Israel during the 2006 Hezbollah uprising. Easier going than David Grossman thanks to all the American pop music references and fashion asides to describe what outfit each character is wearing. And you do end up caring about these four transplanted American Jewish women who find themselves in a small seaside town in northern Israel rather than metropolitan Boston. You trust the author to navigate your way through their feelings as well as through Hebrew in way th Life during wartime specifically Israel during the 2006 Hezbollah uprising. Easier going than David Grossman thanks to all the American pop music references and fashion asides to describe what outfit each character is wearing. And you do end up caring about these four transplanted American Jewish women who find themselves in a small seaside town in northern Israel rather than metropolitan Boston. You trust the author to navigate your way through their feelings as well as through Hebrew in way that Google translate can't. As for the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, "my chest is burning, burns like a furnace. The burning keeps me alive." The title refers to a burial rite conducted by the living for the recently deceased (See page 70 of the paperback edition.) But besides the memorializing, the characters do engage in a whole lotta love...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Devorah

    Four American women who have made aliyah share a bond through their participation in a women's burial society. Their lives, married or otherwise partnered with Israeli men, are a microcosm of all women's lives but seen through the prism of Israeli existentialism. Four American women who have made aliyah share a bond through their participation in a women's burial society. Their lives, married or otherwise partnered with Israeli men, are a microcosm of all women's lives but seen through the prism of Israeli existentialism.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    I thought this book was very good. I can’t imagine being in the situation these were in and while I was reading the book I tried to think what I’d do in their situations. I enjoyed reading how they reacted to different situations and how they tried to make a life for themselves in Israel. The book will bring out a lot of emotions in you. I felt sorry for these women at times, but I also felt anger and admiration. The story and the women are very well written. I loved that they bonded over a circle I thought this book was very good. I can’t imagine being in the situation these were in and while I was reading the book I tried to think what I’d do in their situations. I enjoyed reading how they reacted to different situations and how they tried to make a life for themselves in Israel. The book will bring out a lot of emotions in you. I felt sorry for these women at times, but I also felt anger and admiration. The story and the women are very well written. I loved that they bonded over a circle of life ritual and I also loved learning a bit about Israel. I’m not really a fan of this genre, but the synopsis grabbed my attention and I’m very glad I didn’t pass it up.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    After reading previous reviews, I was excited to dive into this book, and learn about the four women whose lives become changed by their shared experiences, and deep friendship for each other, after three of them moved to Israel from the United States. Although, there were parts of the story I really liked, I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed with some of the storyline. There were too many characters to keep track of, and I couldn't get a true grasp of each of the women, in a deeper sens After reading previous reviews, I was excited to dive into this book, and learn about the four women whose lives become changed by their shared experiences, and deep friendship for each other, after three of them moved to Israel from the United States. Although, there were parts of the story I really liked, I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed with some of the storyline. There were too many characters to keep track of, and I couldn't get a true grasp of each of the women, in a deeper sense. The story did tug on my heartstrings, & I was sincerely moved by the ritual ceremony that the story revolves around. I just don't think it deserves 5 stars from me.

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